There is much talk of unity which all seems to hinge upon one supreme leader. There are many options as to how a unified organization can be structured but I would suggest that the search for a supreme leader places too much hope and responsibility in one person’s hands. Just as the new organization would represent many voices, the leadership should have a number of voices coordinated to sing the same music. We must learn to work as an orchestra, a large band, with each part playing an important role.
Therefore, I believe the search for a supreme leader could lead to far too much disaffection in the community. Here are some take them or leave them suggestions.
I believe that a Veterans’ Assembly with a Board of Directors better reflects the modern context of our new lives where we no longer say ‘yes sir’ but instead assert ourselves as individuals in a group with common interests and needs.
A Board both shares the workload and gives the clear message that we are many and we represent ourselves. In turn, government must learn to respect each and every veteran.
As so many have pointed out in the debate about unification, veterans need to work together. What better symbol of cooperation and coordination than a Board which learns how to share responsibilities and shares the podium.
Any Board member of the Assembly can speak upon the agreed-upon advocacy focus. However, the Assembly will have some limitations and restrictions initially so as to not confuse the message of much-needed change:
The Veterans Assembly would not have the resources to assist with individual cases.
The Veterans Assembly instead would focus upon large systemic change so that many individual cases will be helped.
The Board of the Veterans Assembly would not engage in destructive internet exchanges but instead focus all energies upon the message of change in how government operates.
The Veterans Assembly would not be able to respond to requests or respond to each suggestion submitted to it.
The Veterans Assembly instead would exist as a compiler of “suggestion box” input. The Veterans Assembly would then publicly articulate the needed change.
The Veterans Assembly would use any legal and ethical means necessary to bring a message of change to veterans, the Canadian Public, Parliament and the bureaucracy.
All energies of the Veterans Assembly would be devoted to find creative, multi-voiced, inclusive and potent messages for change.
If the Veterans Assembly can get a coordinated and powerful message out there, then it will have accomplished far more than any veterans organization in the five decades leading up to 2010.
All veterans groups can participate and give input to this assembly. This is the spirit of a true Veterans Assembly acting in unity.
An interim Board can be initially established to set-up a not-for-profit corporation. Since it will advocate, it cannot be a charity. It will require funding and support. This may be the Achilles heel which results in the Assembly failing before it begins. Even the most basic organization requires funding for admin costs.
These are just a few suggestions on creating Veterans Assembly of Canada for Positive Change (VAC+)